This week, libraries and bookstores across the country are observing Banned Books Week, an annual event since 1982. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Diversity.” As the Association of American Publishers (AAP) notes, “The majority of banned books are disproportionally from diverse authors.” Books with themes of race and racism, gender identity, sexuality, and religious difference are also more likely to be challenged or banned.
What message does this send to young people? First, that difference is bad and unacceptable. Second, that voices that deviate from the norm (whatever that is) are suspect and dangerous. Challenging books with diverse content stigmatizes many in our community, limits learning and growth, and stifles the healthy dialogue that should be at the center of our schools and democracy.
Fortunately, we have access to more diverse perspectives in young adult literature than ever before. The Hill Top Library proudly features contemporary and classic books by diverse authors; themes of difference, bias, and equity; and characters with a wide range of intersecting identities. Our collection includes many frequently challenged titles, which also happen to be awesome books. Celebrate your freedom to read, and check ’em out!
Note: Books pictured (in Hill Top Library) have all been frequently challenged.
Wednesday’s featured series was a mash-up of William Shakespeare and George Lucas, so it seemed fitting to choose another mash-up that’s been shuffling around the library for a while.
Mark Twain…meet the zombie invasion. In Adventiures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, Huck and Jim are battling those infected by a pox that kills them and brings them back to life. And of course, Huck orchestrates a prank that goes horribly wrong for Jim, requiring them to escape to the river.
These mash-ups tend to be pretty true to the original, so if you’ve never read Mark Twain you can get a taste for his style, while enjoying a little zombie apocalypse. This also fits with Banned Books Week since Twain’s original is one of the most often challenged books and has even been recently “edited” to make it less “offensive.”
It’s Banned Books Week. This is the week set aside by the American Library Association to celebrate the fact that, in our country, only your parents can tell you that you can’t read a book.
Although books are not banned outright by the government, there are times when an individual will question whether a book should be included in a library’s collection. The American Library Association keeps track of these challenges to books. About a year ago, Paste Magazine ran an article based on the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-2000. They shortened the list to 10 Frequently-Challenged Books Everyone Should Read, which should give you a slightly new appreciation for some of your required reading. I’ve read 8. How many have you read?
10. Anything by Judy Blume
9. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
8. Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Patterson
7. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
6. Native Son by Richard Wright
5. Lord of the Flies by Richard Golding
4. The Giver by Lois Lowry
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
1. The Cather in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Many of these books, and others that have been challenged are on display in the library. Come on up and check one out (after you’ve cleared it with your folks).